WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic Rep. Niki Tsongas, who credited her late husband Paul as a political lodestar, announced Wednesday she would not seek re-election in her north Massachusetts district.
“I have learned in life that there is a time for endings and for new beginnings. After much thought, I have decided that this is one of those times,” the 71-year-old Tsongas said in a statement.
Tsongas was elected to the House in a special election in 2007 when she replaced Democrat Marty Meehan, who had resigned to become chancellor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Tsongas has been at the forefront in the fight against sexual assault in the military. She and Republican Rep. Michael Turner of Ohio frequently joined forces on legislation to protect victims and combat assault.
In her statement, she hailed the gains of elected women in the state, from Sen. Elizabeth Warren to the 50 percent of the female state legislators in her northern district that encompasses parts of Essex, Middlesex and Worcester counties.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., praised Tsongas’ years of service and said, “We are all grateful for her firm belief that ‘women can’t win if women don’t run’ and for the courage and inspiration she has given countless women to fight for a seat at the table.”
Her late husband, Paul Tsongas, was a Democratic congressman and served as Massachusetts senator. He made an unsuccessful bid for president in 1992 as Bill Clinton captured the party nomination on the way to two terms in the White House. Paul Tsongas died of cancer in 1997 at the age of 55.
“It has been my heartfelt honor to serve the people of this district over the past 10 years and I have been guided all along by an extraordinary role model in my late husband Paul,” Niki Tsongas said. “I am so grateful to those who have been there since Day One, and to the many great Americans who I have met along the way, all of whom have served as my inspiration and support.”
Twenty-seven House members have announced plans to retire or have departed Congress, with several joining the Trump administration, others setting their sights on Senate or governor and still others deciding to step down.